Monthly Archives: February 2013

Misfit News 2-28-13

This week’s Misfit News segment begins with a very painful story that may have you thinking twice about riding your bicycle.

Here’s the headline from huffingtonpost.com:

Bike Gets Stuck In Boy’s Anus

And guess what? There’s a video.

OK, so the video doesn’t really show much, but still… Ew, er… Ow? Ew-ow.

A young boy in China is recovering from injuries suffered when his bike seat bent and the rod holding it penetrated his anus, MSNnow.com reported.

Firefighters were able to remove most of the bike, but the rod remained in the anus of the student, whose name has not been released, according to SingaporeSeen.stomp.com.

The child was then taken to a local hospital by ambulance where the medical staff the medical staff removed the bike rod and he was released without serious injury, RocketNews24 reported.

It was a close call, though. One doctor told reporters that the penetrating rod came close to killing the boy, Inquistr.com reported.

I don’t even know what to say, except again, ew-ow.

While we’re talking about weird medical stuff…

I came across an interesting countdown on LiveScience.com:

Most Bizarre Medical Conditions

#8 is Body Integrity Identity Disorder.

Sufferers of a bizarre medical condition called “body integrity identity disorder” (BIID), who are otherwise totally sane, feel as if one of their body parts — their right foot up to the mid-calf, for example — shouldn’t be there. The limb seems horrific and alien, and they can usually draw a line in the exact place where they desperately wish to have it removed.

The neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran recently uncovered the cause of the condition: BIID sufferers are missing part of their body image map in their brains. Their unwanted limb is not correctly mapped onto the corresponding brain region, leaving them feeling extremely uncomfortable with it.

There is currently no cure but for the uncharted limb to be removed, and when a sympathetic surgeon agrees to amputate, BIID sufferers report feeling infinitely happier.

Hm.

#7 is congenital insensitivity to pain. In other words… These people just don’t feel pain! If you think that’s awesome, think again.

Pain is a life-saving physical response to danger, and when people are born with a rare genetic mutation that leaves them unable to feel pain, they often die early deaths as a result of treatable injuries that they simply fail to notice.

It all starts in infancy, when babies born with pain insensitivity bite off the tips of their tongues, break their bones without making a fuss, and get corneal damage after neglecting to brush foreign objects out of their eyes.

Yikes!

#6: Pica

This one really makes me cringe.

Sufferers of pica have an undeniable urge to eat non-food, often as a result of stress, mineral deficiency or pregnancy. The disease has many sub-categories, some weirder and more dangerous than others, to describe people who eat chalk, feces, glass, mucus, paint, body parts, hair, urine, wood and more.

#5: Mass hysteria!!!!!!

As the name implies, this little-understood psychological condition sets in among a group of people — typically a gaggle of young girls — who spontaneously manifest the same or similar hysterical symptoms, such as seizures, convulsions or fainting. Sufferers believe they all have the same disease or illness, but in fact they’re all in good physical health.

Think “Salem Witch Trials.”

#4 is maggot infestation. That’s all that needs to be said about that one.

#3: Morgellon’s disease

There’s a new, extremely weird disease in town. Sufferers of “Morgellon’s disease,” a term coined only one decade ago, feel as if there are things crawling, biting and stinging them below the surface of their skin. Their constant urge to scratch results in insomnia and terrible skin lesions.

In 2012, researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued the results of a multi-year investigation of the unexplained condition; they found that patients had no actual disease organisms under their skin, and suggested their sensations were manifestations of “delusional infestation” — a false feeling of being infected by parasites.

#2 is a weird one: Parasitic twin

When a twin embryo begins developing in utero, but the pair does not fully separate and one embryo dominates the other, the weaker twin stops developing and turns into a “parasitic twin” — a non-functional, non-conscious collection of extra body parts attached to the healthy remaining twin. Sometimes, the healthy twin is born and raised packing this extra weight.

And last, but certainly not least…

Cotard delusion.

Cotard delusion, otherwise known as walking corpse syndrome, is an extremely rare condition whereby people wake up one day and think they have died, that they no longer exist, or that their flesh is rotting off.

It’s all in their head, of course, but there’s a physical cause nonetheless: The brain region involved in facial recognition has become disconnected from the regions involved in emotion. When the person looks in the mirror, they recognize themselves, but they don’t have the usual emotional response. Their appearance has lost its association with their sense of self, and this cognitive dissonance results in the sense that they do not exist, or have died.

Let’s just all be thankful we don’t have bikes in our anuses and are fairly sane and maggot-free.

Until next week!

 

Art in Words

I do a lot of things, and writing poetry happens to be one of them. However, I guess I don’t always share it the way it’s meant to be shared. I try to share my photography and my news writing and my graphic design and all that, but I think it’s high time my poetry reaches the minds and hearts of those willing to receive it.

I have written poetry for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it’s for fun, but mostly my writing is born from experiences I have and witness. Personally, I think my best work comes as a result of deep emotion. In fact, it seems it’s much easier for me to express my feelings through abstract writing than through concrete speaking.

My writing has evolved greatly through my adolescence and journey into adulthood. Through confusion, anger, sickness and depression and into triumph and happiness, my writing tells my soul’s story.

I highly favor metaphoric and abstract poetry as a way of opening the minds of others and inviting various interpretations.

The two poems I’m going to share with you in this post were written in January. I won’t tell you what they mean to me right now; hopefully you can find your own meaning.

Salvation

“Write a note,” they say.

Spill your words onto paper in ink or in graphite.

The world doesn’t have to know, but to release those thoughts could mean your salvation.

“Let it go,” they say.

Set fire to the pages and watch them burn brightly.

The ashes will float away, but to feel the warmth of release could mean your salvation.

“Just move on,” they say.

Seek out another with which to share secrets.

A soul mate comes along only once, and to find your missing piece could mean your salvation.

“Life’s too short,” they say.

Make the most of the time you’ve been given on earth.

Do your best and learn from your mistakes, because you may never get another chance at salvation.

And one that means a great deal to me…

The Flood

So much flooding… And yet, no rain.

How can I be drowning when I’m dry? I’m wading through the thickness of thin air.

I’ve never seen the ocean or felt its lapping waves, but I have to imagine it’s much kinder and gentler than the sea I’ve come to know.

How long can I hold my breath? I’m not certain. I only hope I can make it to the shore before I sink, sending tiny bubbles to the surface with my last goodbye.

I had only just begun to find my footing, to leave my mark on solid ground. Basking in warmth and light, with balance and with control. Now I’m only treading, and I’ve never been a very good swimmer. It’s cold and dark, I’m unbalanced and I’m losing control.

Where is the sun? Will it come again tomorrow, or did it burn out when I turned my back?

No lifeboat or salvation, not a buoy in sight. Only miles and miles of… what? Not water.

So how can I be drowning when I’m dry? I’m hoping this is just a dream.

Will I wake and find myself still and safe in my bed? Will I fill my lungs with air and know I won’t suffocate beneath the surface?

Wait, I remember. This isn’t a dream. But it’s not all bad. I’m learning to swim. I’m learning to hold my breath and to value every second my lungs are allowed to function.

I will not drown, for the shore is now in sight, and my motivation is renewed as I come closer to the feeling of earth beneath my feet.

My strokes are not consistent, and I tire along the way, but to know or to yearn for what lies ahead makes me paddle on.

Again I find my footing, as unsteady as it may be at first, and the feeling is nearly indescribable.

I catch my breath, savor it, hold onto the bliss and the relief of a trial now overcome.

The sun returned. Did I ever truly believe it would abandon me? How silly the idea seems now that I’m warm again. I feel such a stirring inside me.

I’ve never seen the ocean or felt its lapping waves, but I have to imagine its power and beauty is unmatched by the sea I’ve come to know.

So much flooding… And yet, no rain.

What do my poems say to your heart?

 

think feel love

Misfit News 2-21-13

If you think fish are quiet pets, don’t own a plainfin midshipman.

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This week’s first story has this headline:

‘Singing’ Fish Hums to Attract Mates

This story, posted on LiveScience.com on Tuesday, explores a type of fish that can be found in waters from Santa Montica, California all the way up to Alaska. It gets its name “midshipman” from the prey-attracting photophores on its body that resemble the buttons on a naval officer’s uniform.

Here’s the rest of the story by LiveScience Staff Writer Tanya Lewis:

It sounds like the drone of a guitar amplifier, but it’s actually the amorous serenade of a fish called the plainfin midshipman. During the summer, this sonorous sea creature hums to attract females to its rocky seafloor love nest.

“It sounds like a drone of bees or maybe even the chanting of monks,” neurobiologist Andrew Bass, who has studied these fish extensively, told LiveScience.

The hum is so loud that for years, houseboat owners in Sausalito, Calif., complained it was disrupting their sleep and drowning out conversations. Theories circulated about what was making the strange noise — sewage pumps? Military experiments? Submarines? Ultimately, scientists discovered that the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) was causing all the buzz.

To make their humming sounds, the fish use the gas-filled bladder that keeps them buoyant. When the fish contracts muscles on the sides of the bladder, the muscles vibrate against the wall of the bladder, which in turn vibrates the surrounding water. The result is something that sounds like a monotone didgeridoo.

And it gets even weirder: There are actually two kinds of male midshipman. There are the “singing males” that hum to attract the ladies. And then there are “sneaker males” that don’t sing, but instead sneak into the singers’ nests and fertilize the eggs a female has laid there. (Like many fish, midshipman reproduce by fertilizing eggs outside the body.)

The fish don’t just make noise to entice a female. The males make growling and grunting sounds too, to defend their nests from intruding males.

The bizarre humming of the midshipman isn’t really that unusual, according to Bass. “Sound production is extremely widespread among fishes,” Bass said. Reports of fish vocalizing date back to the time of Aristotle, he added.

These fish also show seasonal changes in hearing — both males and females hear better during the summer. This makes them good models for studying human hearing loss, scientists say.

And here’s a video of the sounds. Weird!

Sticking to the scientific side of things, I found this gem of a headline on NPR.org:

‘Robogut’ Makes Synthetic Poop To Treat Stubborn Infections

Umm… Ew.

“RePOOPulate” is the name of this stool substitute.

You know what, though? I don’t think I can explain it. So, without further ado, the article by Michaeleen Doucleff:

Last summer, we learned about fake poop made from soybeans that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation used to test high-tech commodes at their toilet fair.

Now, we’ve come across another type of artificial poop, and it’s being created to help people with really bad cases of diarrhea.

This synthetic stool isn’t made of soybeans, but instead, it’s a mixture containing 33 different types of bacteria. And, oh yeah, doctors create the stuff in something called the “Robogut” — a mechanical device that mimics the conditions in your colon.

Doctors in Ontario, Canada, developed the synthetic stool — which they call RePOOPulate — to treat people sick with infections fromClostridium difficile, bacterium that can cause serious, persistent bouts of diarrhea. The germ can take hold after people are treated with antibiotics for other infections.

The Robogut, developed at the University of Guelph, can grow up a whole the bacteria that thrive in your gut. Many of these bugs won't grow in any other laboratory in the world.

The Robogut, developed at the University of Guelph, can grow up a whole the bacteria that thrive in your gut. Many of these bugs won’t grow in any other laboratory in the world.

The researchers report in the current issue of Microbiome that the treatment with synthetic poop successfully cured two people of their infections.

Normal bacteria in your gut help protect against toxic pathogens, saysDr. Elaine Petrof, an infectious disease specialist at Kingston General Hospital, who led the study. “When you’re sick and take antibiotics, you knock out the innocent bystanders, too.” That messes up the ecosystem in your gut.

Most people can repopulate the good bacteria naturally, but in some cases, C. difficile, which is resistant to many antibiotics, takes over. The bacteria make a nasty toxin that can make people get really sick.

Taking more antibiotics usually wipes out C. difficile. But in some cases, Petrof says, the pathogen just keeps coming back. “It becomes a vicious cycle because the antibiotics keep killing the good bacteria.”

That’s where the RePOOPulate could be helpful. The idea is to load up the patient’s GI tract with a bunch of the good bacteria so they push C. difficile out of the way.

To do that, Petrof and her team took a stool sample from a healthy, 40-year-old woman, who hadn’t taken antibiotics in 10 years.

Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe, who invented the Robogut, grew the bacteria from her stool and then sequenced the bugs’ DNA to figure which species were present.

A stool substitute, called RePOOPulate, aims to replace dangerous pathogens in the gut with a healthy community of bacteria.

Courtesy of Matthew Manor/KGH

Using her clinical experience, Petrof selected 33 bacteria that she knew were healthy. The result was an opaque mixture of bacteria, which Allen-Vercoe describes as a “vanilla milkshake.” Really.

Petrof then put the bacterial cocktail into the intestines of the two patients during colonoscopies.

The new bacteria slowly grew in the patients’ guts and pushed out the toxicC. difficile. Both patients eventually stopped having diarrhea, and the transplanted bacteria were still present six months after the procedure.

Petrof refers to the bacteria elixir as a probiotic, but she says it’s far from the kind you pick up at Whole Foods.

“Most probiotics are lab-extracted strains of bacteria, which are used in the dairy industry,” she says. They aren’t built to live in your gut, so they tend to just pass right through you after you take them, she says.

In contrast, the bacteria in the RePOOPulate mixture have evolved to thrive in our gastrointestinal tracts. “That’s where they normally live,” she says.

Plus, the mixture is a whole community of bacteria that live together in an ecosystem. “When you take antibiotics, it’s kind of like stripping out the Amazon forest in your gut,” she tells Shots. “We’re putting the whole ecosystem back in.”

Gastroenterologist Darrell Pardi, who wasn’t involved in the study, says the treatments is just one of several recentexamples of doctors trying to develop a cleaner version of a fecal transplant. In that procedure, doctors take a stool sample from a healthy person and transplant it into the GI tract of a patient with C. difficile.

Fecal transplants aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there are only a few reports out there showing how effective they are. “But they’ve gotten quite common in the past few years,” says Pardi, who’s studies experimental treatments for C. difficile at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“More and more practitioners in the U.S. are doing fecal transplants, in both large and small centers,” he tells Shots. “Our center has done 16 since September. Our success rate is similar to what’s been reported, about 80 to 95 percent.”

But fecal transplants have a few problems, Pardi says. Each transplant requires a unique donor, so it’s expensive. And, doctors really don’t know which bacteria are getting moved between people.

A pure culture of bacteria, like RePOOPulate, could be safer and more reproducible, Pardi says.

“A fecal transplant is like taking a sledgehammer to kill C. difficile: It puts millions of bacteria into the patient,” Pardi tells Shots. “There’s tremendous enthusiasm now for finding what the key components of that hammer are.”

What will they come up with next?

YAY, SCIENCE!

Misfit News 2-14-13

Yes, I know it’s actually the 13th, but I post my blog entries a day early. I’m such a rebel.

That said, on to the first misfit story of the week!

I didn’t have to look very hard to find this gem. In fact, I just stumbled upon it while browsing my Yahoo! homepage. Here’s the headline that caught my attention:

A meth lab was found in a porta-potty in the middle of a golf course

My journalism knowledge suggests that this is a terrible headline for the sake of a headline, but hey, I went ahead and read the story, right? Anyway…

Once I started reading, I realized this story was based in Oklahoma. And honestly, the photo reminded me of the golf course in my town!

portapotty

I was a little worried. Luckily, I figured out it was in a different location, so it’s not so bad.

Here’s the story by Shane Bacon:

There is absolutely nothing enjoyable about having to take a bathroom break in a porta-potty. They smell, they’re dirty and you’re either usually super hot or super cold while inside of one.

But a porta-potty meth lab on a golf course? That isn’t a thing, right?!

Wrong. In Oklahoma, investigators found a mini meth lab inside a porta-potty in the middle of a golf course, which has to be the weirdest/most creative meth lab in history.

Via the KFOR report …

“Under cover drug agents defuse a mini meth lab found inside a porta-potty in the middle of a golf course Tuesday in Purcell. Staffers noticed strange sports drink bottles with chemicals inside the porta-potty and called police.

Officers arrived and soon realized someone had been inside making meth using the “shake and bake” method.”

There’s also a video, so get the rest here.

I found this next story within a different story. Here’s what I read that made me search for the rest of the information:

“Monstrous” might be the best way to describe Andrew Mendoza, who admitted that he forced himself on his neighbor’s horse because he was ‘trying to make the horse have a baby,” a theoretical offspring he describes as a “horseman.”

Someone never had sex-ed.

The story on Huffingtonpost.com provided the official NSFW confession statement from Mendoza, which I’ll let you read for yourself, at your own discretion here. As for the official headline:

Andrew Mendoza Had Sex With Horse, Was ‘Trying To Make The Horse Have A Baby’: Statement

And the story:

His girlfriend was unreliable, so he went out to find a stable relationship. (Really, Huffpost? A horse pun?)

According to a signed — though undated — statement newly released by the Smoking Gun, Andrew Mendoza of Danavang, Texas, was waiting for his girlfriend to call one night and told himself that if he didn’t hear from her, he would go next door and “mess with the neighbor’s horse.” She didn’t call.

The document details the encounter in graphic detail before stating, “I was trying to make the horse have a baby. I was thinking it would have a horseman baby. I ain’t going to lie, I blew a nut in the horse.”

He later pleaded guilty to public lewdness and criminal trespassing, according to the Smoking Gun, and spent four months in jail.

Only four months? That poor horse.

horse-cartoon

Wow, this week’s Misfit News segment has been thoroughly disturbing. I’ll see what I can find on the lighter side of things next week. Click the “Follow” button for an email next time I post!

Cake!

What can you do with a box of white cake mix?

Just about anything.

This is the brand I have been using, but feel free to try something else.

This is the brand I have been using, but feel free to try something else.

 

I used a single box of white cake mix to make three different desserts.

  • Mini Blue Coconut Cupcakes
  • Lemon Cake (& mini cupcakes)
  • Hershey’s/Reese’s Mix-up Minis

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How do you start?

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box.

cake2 cake3

And then…

Separate the batter into different bowls.

For my coconut minis, you’ll need the following additional ingredients:

  • Imitation coconut extract
  • Sweetened flaked coconut (save some to toast, if desired)
  • Blue food coloring
I have no measurement for you. This is on a to-taste basis!

I have no measurement for you. This is on a to-taste basis!

cake9

cake8

Just add and mix.

I can’t tell you how much of each ingredient to add because it just depends on what you like.

Once you have the coconut batter ready, you can fill your lined mini muffin pan. I like to use a cookie scoop; it makes perfect portions with very little mess.

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And they’re ready to bake!

 

For the lemon minis, you’ll need these additional ingredients:

  • Lemon extract
  • Lemon juice
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Powdered sugar

cake5

cake6

cake7

 

(The powdered sugar comes later)

Add and mix.

Fill and bake.

cake15

cake16

 

And for the mix-ups, you’ll need these:

  • Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • Baking cocoa
  • Reese’s unwrapped minis

cake11

cake12

cake13

Add and mix, fill and bake.

 

Drum roll, please…

 

cake20

cake19

cake17

 

I added powdered sugar to the lemon minis before topping them with whipped cream.

The coconut minis got a whipped cream topping (I would have added toasted coconut to the top, but it burned and almost set off the smoke alarm. My fiance was distracting me).

And I topped off the mix-ups with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a single peanut butter cup.

I’m sure there are countless other ways to turn a box of white cake mix into many masterpieces, but so far, these are three of my favorites!

What will I come up with next?… Any suggestions?…

To be continued…?

 

Misfit News 2-7-13

Odd news never goes away. That’s why I’m excited to bring you week 2 of this Misfit News section!

Since it’s spirit week at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, I thought this first story would be very timely (and scary) to share.

Here’s the headline from Yahoo! News:

Two California students lose fingers in tug-of-war

tugowar

The story by Reuters reporter Dan Whitcomb was posted on Tuesday. The two students involved in the accident were from a Los Angeles-area high school at which spirit week activities were taking place, namely a group tug-of-war contest on that day.

Here’s the rest of the story:

A boy and a girl from South El Monte High School were rushed to a local trauma center on Monday afternoon after their fingers were cut off during the tug-of-war at lunchtime, fire and school district officials said.

The students have undergone surgery to reattach the severed digits, El Monte Union High School District Superintendent Nick Salerno said.

“I’m a dad too, and my heart goes out to these kids and their families. To me the whole thing is unbelievable,” Salerno told Reuters. “I’ve been in tug-of-wars myself, more than I can even count, and I’ve never heard anything like this.”

Salerno said the two teens, who have not been identified by authorities, were both student athletes participating in annual activities designed to boost school spirit and participation.

“The activity that day was tug-of-war. Unfortunately the rope broke and both students had some fingers severed,” he said, adding that he had no further details on how the injuries occurred.

A spokesman for Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center said both students were listed in stable condition. He declined to elaborate on their condition or the outcome of the surgery.

Salerno said the school district had provided counseling for students at South El Monte High School, which serves about 1,500 students in El Monte, a city of about 115,000 people in the San Gabriel Valley north of Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)

Yikes. This isn’t a humorous story by any means, but it is odd. No one expects to enter into a friendly competition and lose appendages.

This next story is definitely an interesting one. First, I’ll ask you, what’s the best way to generate interest in your local library? You offer pole dancing lessons, of course!

Here’s the headline:

Library offers pole dancing class

pole-party1books

It certainly caught my attention. This story on UPI.com posted Wednesday explains a  Scottish library’s efforts to encourage more visitors.

DALKEITH, Scotland, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A Scottish library used pole dancing classes as part of a daylong event designed to drum up interest in the facility.

The Mayfield Library in Dalkeith hosted a pole dancing class Saturday with teacher Nikki Clark as part of Love Your Library Day, which also featured table tennis with books instead of paddles, head massages and Scottish country dancing, STV reported Wednesday.

“Love Your Library Day is a marvelous opportunity for us all to celebrate the hugely important role libraries play in the heart of our local community,” said Bob Constable of Midlothian Council. “The pole fitness session is a fun and interesting way of encouraging more people into our libraries, trying out all the services on offer and ultimately borrowing more books.”

Well, I guess if it caught my attention, it probably caught the attention of several others, too. Hm.

There’s plenty more misfit news where that came from… Come back next week for more. Hit the “follow” button for updates when I post!

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